This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

A Florist's Lush Inner City Garden

Gardens

Florist Sean Cook, of Mr Cook, has lived a long love affair with plants!

Only two years ago, Sean’s Sydney garden was a trashed construction site. Transformed by famed landscape designer Richard Unsworth, today we tour the lush oasis!

7th May, 2018

Sean  Cook didn’t want flowers in his garden, he wanted texture and lots of green. Photo – Daniel Shipp.

Sean loves pots! Most of these pots are either from Garden Life or sourced from Sean in his travels. Photo – Daniel Shipp.

The zig zag cactus (Selenicereus chrysocardium) creates a dramatic effect draping down concrete retaining walls and contrasting with the upright foliage of mother-in-laws tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata) behind. Photo – Daniel Shipp.

Sean Cook and Michael Bright’s inner city Sydney garden connects seamlessly to the house. Photo – Daniel Shipp.

Florist Sean Cook in the garden with Oskar and Hooper. Photo – Daniel Shipp.

Bluestone steppers planted with native violet (Viola hederaceae) and kidney weed (Dichondra repens) provide a simple foil for abundant greenery. Photo – Daniel Shipp.

Sean stumbled across this striking cactus (Cereus peruvianus ‘Monstrose’) whilst on a buying trip for a floristry job. Photo – Daniel Shipp.

Plectranthus (Plectranthus ciliatus cvs.). Photo – Daniel Shipp.

Georgina Reid
Monday 7th May 2018

‘It’s all a bit wild, and crazy and generous.’ – Sean Cook.

‘Plants and flowers are my medium. I love their colours, textures and form,’ says florist Sean Cook. We’re sitting in the living room of his Redfern home, embraced by bright white walls dripping with art. It’s a colourful and exuberant space, and whilst the art is incredible, the garden is where my eyes settle. It’s one big, green, artwork.

Sean and his partner Matthew Bright bought the property around five years ago. They soon undertook a major renovation on the house, and one day, upon arriving on site to check on the construction progress, they realised what had existed of the previous garden was completely trashed. ‘We decided then and there that we needed to do it properly and start right away, whilst the construction was going on. I have known landscape designer Richard Unsworth of Garden Life for a long time, and at that time his shop was just around the corner. ‘I called him and said, “Richard come down and help!”‘

‘Our brief to Richard was to keep it very loose and natural. We wanted stairs leading out from the house and I wanted a mirror on the back wall and a fishpond.’ Unlike the multi-coloured nature of the house interior, Sean wanted a monotonal garden. ‘I wanted an all green garden. There’s lots of colour in the house and I wanted the garden to counterbalance its exuberance. Also, I love green. Green and pink are my two favourite colours.’

Sean came to plants via school holiday visits to his grandmother in Parkes, in central western NSW. ‘She had a fernery attached to her house and it was such a magical place. There were native orchids and ferns and hoyas, and a pond filled with tadpoles. I suppose that’s where my love affair with plants and gardening started,’ he says.

Picking flowers from the backyard of his childhood home in Strathfield for his primary school teachers was the next step in Sean’s plant evolution. ‘I used to make bouquets for my teachers from our garden. What a crawler I was! I stopped giving my teachers flowers in high school, though. I couldn’t wait to leave.’

It’s inevitable, then, that Sean ended up as a florist. After working in visual merchandising and events, he cut his floral teeth with Saska Havekes of Grandiflora for 14 years, before starting his own business, Mr Cook, seven years ago. He tells me he loves the theatre of creating big installations, and the beauty and exuberance flowers and plants can bring to a space.

His garden, whilst relatively flower free, has a similar sense of energy and drama. ‘It’s all a bit wild, and crazy and generous,’ he says. He loves collecting pots and plants in his wanderings, and seems to always be able to fit just one more plant in, particularly if it’s got meaning. ‘My grandmother had a big staghorn in her fernery, so when Richard sent me a photo of another gorgeous one, we had to find a space for it. I already had two, but I needed to find a home for it.’

The garden is now two years old. ‘I can’t believe how much it’s grown! It’s surprisingly self-maintaining, though I do love pottering around in it,’ Sean says. His garden is a great example of the value of creating an oasis of green in the inner city.

View Comments

Similar Stories

Gardens

David Whitworth

An anecdotal guide to hiding your 'ghetto garden'.
Georgina Reid

Gardens

Owen Harris

A lush rooftop garden in inner city Fitzroy.

Gardens

The Bondi Garden Of Landscape Designer William Dangar

The well-known landscape designer's abundant Sydney garden - encased in lush foliage!
Georgina Reid

This Week

News

A New Exhibition Of Raw, Gestural Works From Miranda Skoczek

One of Melbourne’s most collectible contemporary artists opens her first show of the year tomorrow.

Interiors

A Suitably Fashionable Home, From Two Brilliant Creatives

Interior designer/stylist extraordinaire Simone Haag revamps a Victorian Terrace in Armadale.
Miriam McGarry

Modernist Australia

This Corner-Block Mid-Century Classic Is For Sale

A modernist treasure that hasn't changed hands since the late 1960s!
Patricia Callan

News

Our Guide To The Biggest-Ever Melbourne Design Week

Australia’s creative capital transforms into a thriving design hub this March!
Sally Tabart

News

Local Artists And Designers Feature At This Brunswick East Craft Fete

Bringing back the neighbourhood vibe at this FREE one-day community event!

News

A Way For All Australians To Celebrate Robin Boyd's 100th

Australia Post releases a commemorative stamp acknowledging the seminal architect’s centenary.

News

Klaylife's Dramatic New Range

Macrame and clay beads combine for a spectacular new collection of chandeliers.

Food

Nutella, Sea Salt And Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Charlotte Ree's epic choc-chip cookie, with all the trimmings!
Charlotte Ree

TDF Collect

Announcing Our Next Exhibition, Katie Daniels' 'Unfolding Light'

Introducing a brand new artist for our first TDF Collect art exhibition of 2019! Melbourne painter Katie Daniels is one to watch.
Lucy Feagins
  1 hour ago

Architecture

An Architect's Own Dream Home

Sally Wilson of sw-architects shows us around her newly renovated home in Woodville, South Australia.
Miriam McGarry

Small Business

How Can Your Business Give Back?

Steps you can take to make a positive impact through your workplace, with sage advice from the legends at Who Gives A Crap.
Fiona Killackey

Interiors

Karen McCartney's Dreamy, Rustic French Farmhouse

A dream European outpost for two of Australia’s most respected design aficionados! (And yes, it's available for holiday rental).

Shopping

Morocco Meets Byron Bay In This Modern Bohemian Wonderland

A virtual visit to the rug and artisanal object treasure trove that is Tigmi Trading.
Elle Murrell

Homes

A Media Mogul's Inner City Oasis

The Fitzroy apartment of Melbourne power couple Nick Shelton and Catherine Graves.

Events

TDF Talks @Mercedes me, Round Two!

David Bromley, Peter Maddison, Paul West, and Justine Cullen in-conversation at Mercedes me – book now!

Similar Stories

Gardens

David Whitworth

An anecdotal guide to hiding your 'ghetto garden'.
Georgina Reid

Gardens

Owen Harris

A lush rooftop garden in inner city Fitzroy.

Gardens

The Bondi Garden Of Landscape Designer William Dangar

The well-known landscape designer's abundant Sydney garden - encased in lush foliage!
Georgina Reid